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Tron Creator Justin Sun Apologizes to China in Deleted Social Media Post

Blockchain platform Tron’s founder, Justin Sun, sparked fresh controversy this week after he first posted and then deleted an online apology in an ongoing PR debacle. 

Cryptocurrency-focused news outlet Cryptoslate reported the events, providing their own translation of comments Sun reportedly wrote and later removed from Chinese social media platform Weibo on July 25.

Sun was due to have lunch with infamous Bitcoin (BTC) naysayer Warren Buffett on Thursday, a date he recently abruptly postponed due to reported ill health. 

At the same time, Sun’s intense marketing of Tron, for which he himself became well known, appeared to backfire as Chinese authorities allegedly raised suspicions over the platform’s legal status. 

Those suspicions went public courtesy of local media outlet Caixin, which also reported he had been banned from foreign travel. Sun then named Caixin in the apology, which appeared to be an attempt to placate Beijing. The translation reads: 

“I didn’t sleep all night yesterday, and deeply reflected on my memories and was introspective for my behavior and words — I felt ashamed for my over-marketing. I want to deeply apologize to the public, media, leaders, and the related regulatory authority who cared about me.” 

As Cointelegraph reported, Sun produced evidence he was in San Francisco, the original venue for the Buffett lunch, to disprove reports that he had been prevented from leaving China.

The entrepreneur has not offered an explanation as to why he chose to delete the apology, in which he pledged to change the tone of his marketing activities. He wrote:

“In the future, I will repair my shortcomings, reduce my vocalizations on Weibo, reduce the media interviews, and translate all the research and development from marketing hype to true blockchain technology.”

Despite the controversy, Tron’s TRX token was still trading up around 2% as of press time Thursday.

John McAfee Reportedly Released Following Detainment in The Dominican Republic

Cryptocurrency enthusiast and antivirus software namesake John McAfee appears to have been released by authorities in the Dominican Republic today. McAfee posted a picture on his official Twitter account with the caption:

“Leaving detention (don’t judge my looks – four days of confinement). I was well treated. My superiors were friendly and helpful. In spite of the helpful circumstances, we’ve decided to move on. More later.”

On July 23, a post was made on McAfee’s twitter account, allegedly by McAfee’s campaign manager Rob Benedicto Pacifico Juan Maria Loggia-Ramirez, saying that McAfee and his boat crew had likely been detained. McAfee announced that Loggia-Ramirez would be his presidential campaign manager in October 2018. 

A report by the Associated Press appears to have confirmed Loggia-Ramirez’s suspicion. According to the report, McAfee was arrested on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, while docking his yacht in Puerto Plata, after which authorities seized high-calibre weapons and other military props from his vessel.

McAfee’s presidential campaign in exile

McAfee has been running a campaign for President of the United States from self-imposed exile. He is purportedly conducting the campaign from abroad due to an alleged indictment by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). McAfee said:

“The IRS has convened a grand jury in the state of Tennessee to charge myself, my wife […] and four of my campaign workers with unspecified IRS crimes of a felonious nature.”

McAfee has also said that his campaign is not a serious bid for office, but rather a means to promote cryptocurrency.

In a recent interview with Cointelegraph, McAfee said that he believes fiat money will be dead within 10 years, saying “I think in 10 years there’ll be no fiat anywhere in the world. Everything will be electronic, everything will be cryptocurrency.” In stark contrast, U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin recently said that he will not even be talking about Bitcoin in 10 years.

Germany: Crypto Businesses Will Require a BaFin License Next Year

Starting next year, new Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations will come into effect in Germany. The regulations will require cryptocurrency businesses to hold a Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin)-issued license, Cointelegraph Deutschland reported on July 24.

Possible innovation obstruction

Per the report, the new regulations will require cryptocurrency-related businesses such as exchanges and wallet providers to be licensed by BaFin and comply with AML regulation, since crypto assets will be considered a financial instrument starting on January 1, 2020. According to local media FAZ, Bundestag Free Democratic Party Frank member Schäffler commented suggesting that the government is hurting local innovation and forcing crypto businesses to move to other EU states.

Some welcomed regulatory clarity in Germany

On the other hand, Christian Schmies, partner of the law firm Hengeler Mueller, welcomed the regulation suggesting that more clarity will allow for further growth in the industry. According to him, “the technology has not yet been accepted by institutional investors because a reliable legal framework is missing.” While Schmies considers the classification as a financial instrument to be a step in the right direction, he also notes that the space still needs more clarity.

As Cointelegraph reported yesterday, BaFin recently approved an Ethereum-based real estate bond for security issuance firm Fundament Group.

The German Central Bank also noted in a recent statement that the potential benefits of Facebook’s Libra should not be suppressed despite regulatory uncertainty and potential risks.

Justin Sun Posts Video From San Francisco Following Investigation Reports

Tron founder Justin Sun broadcast a live video from San Francisco to disprove reports that he was prevented from leaving China due to a police investigation.

On July 23, Sun launched a live video on Twitter to deny rumors that he was prevented from leaving China by local authorities based on charges of money laundering, gambling and spreading pornography.

Additionally, Sun posted a picture with him and his “aka bodyguard” Cliff Edwards, the Tron director of communications, with the Bay Bridge in the background.

Justin Sun and Cliff Edwards in San Francisco

Justin Sun and Cliff Edwards in San Francisco. Source: Twitter

Earlier today, local Chinese media outlet Caixin reported that the Office of the Leading Group for the Special Campaign Against Internet Financial Risks called on security organs to launch an investigation into Sun. Per Caixin, Chinese law states that individuals under investigation can be prevented from leaving the country for one month to one year. The report states that, at the time of writing, Sun’s whereabouts were unclear.

Investigation reports follow postponement of Sun’s lunch with Warren Buffett

The report follows an announcement that Sun is rescheduling the long-discussed charity lunch with Berkshire Hathaway CEO and renowned investor Warren Buffett. According to a Tron Foundation tweet on July 22, the relevant parties agreed to reschedule the meeting at a later date as Sun had purportedly fallen ill with kidney stones.

The postponement came just a few days after Sun invited more notable figures from the crypto industry to attend the lunch with Buffett, including eToro founder Yoni Assia, the head of Binance Charity Fund Helen Hai, as well as Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of crypto payments firm Circle.

Tron price slightly recovers after Sun goes live on Twitter

Meanwhile, the Tron (TRX) price has reacted positively to the news, seeing a slight recovery after a major decline caused by the Chinese media reports. At press time, Tron is up about 2.27% over the past hour, while still seeing losses of over 13% on the day. 

Tron 24-hour price chart

Tron 24-hour price chart. Source: Coin360

Earlier in July, the offices of a Tron affiliate in Beijing were surrounded by police as a crowd gathered to protest against a Chinese Ponzi scheme that operated under a Tron-like name.

TD Ameritrade CEO: There’s ‘Heightened Interest Again’ With Bitcoin

Digital currencies are generating increasing interest from investors and traders, says the CEO of  United States brokerage giant TD Ameritrade, reported financial news and services outlet TheStreet on July 23.

In an interview with TheStreet, TD Ameritrade CEO, Tim Hockey, explains that customers are showing increasing demand for cryptocurrencies and willingness to trade it.

Hockey notes lack of consternation among investors

Unlike American lawmakers, active investors do not fret over cryptocurrencies’ purported potential to undermine the existing financial system and the U.S. dollar as they are constantly looking for new asset classes to profit from, according to Hockey. He also noted:

“Especially given the discussions around Libra and the rebound in Bitcoin, there’s heightened interest again.”

Crypto now on regulators’ radar

Hockey makes his comment at a time when the world’s policy makers and regulators are scrutinizing Facebook’s not-yet-launched Libra stablecoin cryptocurrency. 

Last week, the International Monetary Fund, Gita Gopinath, called on global regulators to pay attention and take proper regulatory action regarding Libra.

Gopinath outlined the major risks associated with the corporate-backed stablecoin, including concerns about data privacy, consumer protection, as well as what she called, backdoor dollarization.

During the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee hearings, Representative David Scott also questioned questioned Libra’s David Marcus on Facebook’s ability to ensure the safety of the country’s financial system. 

Scott asked, “What do you see as the responsibilities of Libra to combat money laundering, to protect our financial system?”

Meanwhile, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said last week that the authority will be preventing Bitcoin from becoming an “equivalent of Swiss-numbered bank accounts.” 

He criticized Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as they can be used for illicit purposes such as money laundering, adding that regulators will certainly enforce regulations.

TD Ameritrade Officially Launches Bitcoin Futures Trading

Major American retail brokerage firm TD Ameritrade has launched Bitcoin (BTC) futures trading.

According to the firm’s updated website on July 23, the BTC futures products are available on both TD Ameritrade’s electronic trading platform Thinkorswim and its Mobile Trader App. 

TD Ameritrade users must have at least $25,000

TD Ameritrade’s Q2 2019 fiscal results revealed that it provides investing services for 11 million client accounts totalling roughly $1.3 trillion in assets. 

Its announcement indicated that interested clients must have the permissions and funding requirements to be granted general futures approval on their accounts before they will be able to access the new Bitcoin product. 

The Bitcoin contracts on offer from Ameritrade come via the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), which has been listing BTC futures since winter 2017. 

Today’s announcement confirms that Ameritrade clients will be held to a 1.5x higher margin requirement than on CME, alongside an account minimum of $25,000.

Prospective Ameritrade BTC futures traders are also required to receive two investor advisories — one from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and another from the National Futures Association (NFA). Both of these, the site outlines, are educational materials designed to inform customers of the possible risks of trading virtual currencies. 

Regulated exposure to a trailblazing asset class

Industry commentators such as eToro analyst Mati Greenspan have today hailed the company’s futures launch, remarking that “the floor gates to BTC are now officially open.”

Ameritrade itself notes that while Bitcoin futures “still carry unique and often significant risks, they can potentially provide a more regulated and stable environment to provide some exposure to bitcoin as a commodity as well.” The company also notably clarifies that:

“At this time, TD Ameritrade does not provide the ability to trade or hold bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies directly in TD Ameritrade accounts, and does not provide access to bitcoin/cryptocurrency exchange networks. We offer the ability to trade bitcoin futures contracts, much like we offer futures contracts for gold, corn, crude oil, etc.”

As reported just yesterday, Bakkt — the long-awaited Bitcoin (BTC) futures platform from New York Stock Exchange operator Intercontinental Exchange — has officially begun testing the delivery of its BTC futures.

Bakkt’s Bitcoin futures are to be physically delivered via a process called “warehousing” and have faced multiple delays as regulators — including the CFTC — investigated the platform’s compliance procedures and the offering’s prospective impact on markets. 

This June, CME reported that open interest in its BTC futures contracts had hit an all-time high.

Iran Recognizes Bitcoin and Crypto as an Official Industry, Says MP

The Iranian government’s Economic Commission has approved a mechanism of cryptocurrency mining in the country, according to an announcement by the Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture on July 22.

Iran’s Economic Commission approves crypto mining ‘mechanism’

Governor of the Central Bank of Iran (CBI), Abdolnaser Hemmati said that “a mechanism to mine digital coins was approved by the government’s economic commission and will later be put to discussion at a Cabinet meeting.”

Initially, Iranian authorities announced that they are planning to authorize Bitcoin and cryptocurrency mining earlier in July, when the CBI governor Abdol Hemmati reportedly claimed that the Iranian government had approved some parts of an executive law that would authorize mining of cryptocurrencies in Iran.

At the time, Hemmati argued that digital currency miners in Iran should contribute to the country’s economy, rather than letting mined Bitcoin (BTC) escape abroad.

Also, at the Commission’s latest meeting, its head Elyas Hazrati said that cryptocurrency is now recognized as official by the government, adding:

“We do believe that cryptocurrency industry should be recognized as an official industry in Iran to let the country take advantage of its tax and customs revenues.”

Crypto mining industry taking shape in Iran

Today’s news also follows the finalizing of a tariff scheme for cryptocurrency miners by the Commission on July 21. Energy Minister Homayoon Ha’eri did not specify the exact price scheme, but stated that the price is dependent on market factors such as fuel prices in the Persian Gulf.

Also yesterday, Deputy President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA) Jamal Arounaghi announced that the agency has not yet issued licenses for the import of cryptocurrency mining equipment. The minister said that if the government authorizes import of crypto miners, IRICA will develop related directives.

In contrast, an Indian government panel recommended today to ban cryptocurrencies and impose sanctions for any dealings involving crypto assets in the country.

Bank of America Files Patent for Settlement System Citing Ripple

Bank of America has filed for a patent for a settlement system citing the Ripple ledger, according to a filing on Google Patents.

The patent in question — the application of which was published on June 6 — describes a system using distributed ledger technology (DLT) as an interbank communication tool. The proposed system would enable real-time settlement with transactions being communicated through a shared, decentralized ledger to which both the banks would have access.

The decentralized network would both verify the identity of the payer and the payee and enable communication between the institutions. Notably, multiple illustrations included in the patent explicitly cite Ripple DLT. Ripple’s base asset and proposed settlement gateway asset XRP is not mentioned in the patent.

In June, news broke that Siam Commercial Bank, Thailand’s largest commercial bank, denied any plans to start using Ripple’s XRP token, contrary to earlier indications. The denial came after the bank tweeted that an “XRP system will be announced soon” on June 5.

As Cointelegraph reported earlier this month, Ripple incubator and investment arm Xpring has distributed $500 million to over 20 XRP projects — including the blockchain-based gaming platform Forte — since its launch in May 2018. The aim of the incubator is to fund the development of use cases for Ripple’s XRP token.

Iran Has Not Issued Any Licenses for Importing Crypto Mining Equipment

Iran’s customs administration has not issued licenses for importing digital currency mining equipment into the country due to the absence of approval from the government.

Deputy President of the Islamic Republic of Iran Customs Administration (IRICA) Jamal Arounaghi said that the agency has not issued any licenses for importing cryptocurrency mining devices into the country, multilingual Tehran-based news outlet Mehr News Agency reported on July 21.

While cryptocurrency mining equipment is banned in the country, IRICA has determined a tariff rate for its import, defining it as related to the computers and central processors. Arounaghi noted that the presence of a tariff rate does not indicate than an item is legal or approved by the state, saying that the IRICA has tariff schemes for some illegal drugs as an example. 

The minister said that if the government authorizes import of crypto miners, IRICA will develop related directives.

Earlier in July, Cointelegraph reported that Iranian authorities are wrestling with the rising number of citizens turning to Bitcoin (BTC) mining and use as a means of coping with a sanctions-crippled economy.

At the time, Iran’s Minister for Information and Communications Technology, Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi said that the country has become “a heaven for miners,” adding:

“The business of ‘mining’ is not forbidden in law but the government and the Central Bank have ordered the Customs Bureau to ban the import of [mining machines] until new regulations are introduced.”

In a recent report, the American Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) assessed the current and future risks of cryptocurrency use by countries adversarial to the United States, including Iran.

The FDD warned that, in a scenario in which one of the countries convinces other nations to use a state-based cryptocurrency based on a major commodity export — such as oil — sanctions would be much harder to enforce.

Bitcoin Retakes $11,000 Following Turbulent Week in Crypto

July 20 — Bitcoin (BTC) has retaken the $11,000 price point on the heels of a turbulent week.

Charts Courtesy of Coin360.com

Charts Courtesy of Coin360.com

July 20 — Bitcoin (BTC) has retaken the $11,000 price point on the heels of a turbulent week. 

Charts Courtesy of Coin360.com

Charts Courtesy of Coin360.com

After a bull market at the end of June brought the price of BTC to almost $14,000, the coin had largely been maintaining between $10,000 and $13,000 for most of the past month, briefly cracking $11,000 on July 15 before slipping below the $10,000 price point on July 16. For the past three days, BTC has been in the $10,000 range, but had faltered at the $11,000 resistance until now.

Charts Courtesy of Coin360.com

Charts Courtesy of Coin360.com

The past week has seen some major hurdles for cryptocurrency at large, particularly within the United States. On July 11, President Donald Trump voiced his opposition to cryptocurrencies, particularly BTC and Facebook’s planned Libra, in a series of tweets, saying:

“I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air.” 

Trump’s tweets came days before hearings on Facebook’s Libra before the US Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday, July 16 and the House Financial Services Committee Wednesday, July 17. The two hearings left little doubt as to Congress’s attitude toward Libra, which was overwhelmingly negative. Representative Madeleine Dean commented:

“It’s tough to trust when the collection, storage and misuse of the information of your customers generated a $5 billion fine.”

While Libra’s outlook may be bleak, the significance of the hearings for Bitcoin — with a market cap of $196,266,374,749 as of press time, the largest cryptocurrency — has remained unclear. 

Today’s price rally may mean that the storm has passed for BTC.

‘Samsung Coin’ Trademark Filing Unaffiliated With Samsung

On July 10, Kim Nam-jin applied for a Trademark 5 (TM5) on the name “Samsung Coin” with the Korean Intellectual Property Office (KIPO). As per the filing, it appears that Nam-jin is seeking to trademark the name in both its Korean spelling in Hangul as well as in English.

However, per a July 19 report, a Samsung representative told CoinDesk that Kim Nam-jin is not affiliated with the Korean tech giant Samsung. “We don’t work this way,” the representative apparently said.

Additionally, the report says that the trademark was listed under categories including downloadable electronic money computer program, electronic money card, electronic encryption device, and IC card with electronic money function, although blockchain and cryptocurrency are not mentioned anywhere.

The report also notes that this is not the first time Kim Nam-jin has attempted to trademark a seemingly crypto-related term associated with a Korean tech giant. 

According to the report, Nam-jin also entered an application with KIPO for the name ThinQ Wallet on the same day the individual filed for Samsung Coin. However, in this case, LG Electronics had already filed to trademark ThinQ Wallet as of July 2, which is the name for a proposed, multi-functional crypto wallet.

As reported by Cointelegraph on July 10, Samsung announced that it has released its blockchain and decentralized application (DApp) Software Development Kit (SDK). The SDK is designed for account management, payments, and cold wallet support among other things. The latest Samsung Blockchain SDK is apparently a superset of all previous SDKs, and contains the Samsung Blockchain Keystore SDK.

Ex-CEO of BTC-e Exchange’s Spin-Off WEX Is Arrested in Italy

Former CEO of now-defunct crypto exchange WEX, a spin-off of controversial BTC-e exchange, was arrested in Italy.

No official statement to date

Dmitri Vasilyev, who reopened BTC-e exchange as WEX.nz in September 2017, was detained by Italian prosecutors. While no official statement has been disclosed to date, BBC Russia reported the arrest on July 19. In the report, the publication cited an unnamed friend of Vasilev and two anonymous WEX investors. The reason for detention remains unclear.

In April 2019, Vasilyev became the subject of a criminal investigation by the police department in Kazakh city Almaty, as the alleged suspect was charged with defrauding a local investor in the amount of $20,000 through WEX exchange, as crypto media outlet Forklog reported. According to the report, the 32-year-old suspect was announced wanted under an international arrest warrant in the territory of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

WEX, a spin-off of troubled BTC-e, quickly fell under suspicion

Defunct BTC-e, WEX’s parent exchange, still remains subject to a $4 billion fraud investigation by Greece and the United States, with the alleged founder Alexander Vinnik currently in the custody of Greek police, BBC noted. 

Following Vinnik’s arrest in 2017, Vasilyev relaunched the exchange under name of WEX that soon was reported as exhibiting suspicious tendencies including overpricing Bitcoin (BTC) compared to global norms. Eventually, WEX halted withdrawals in July 2018, which led to claims from users that the platform was a scam.

In late 2018, WEX’s fellow exchange and major global crypto trading platform Binance froze funds sent from wallets associated with WEX after users claimed that the exchange was involved in money laundering.

Meanwhile, Russian authorities continue to fight for Vinnik’s extradition to Russia, with Russia’s Commissioner for Human Rights having recently asked the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to help extradite the alleged criminal.